Tuesday, May 05, 2009

May newsletter column

I've had Pentecost on my mind. Pentecost isn't until May 31st, but two events this past weekend got me thinking about that glorious day, fifty days after Jesus' crucifixion when His church was born.

Not that it seemed much like a church at the time: the apostles had returned to an upper room in Jerusalem, probably a lot like the room where they ate the last supper. In that room were the remaining 11 apostles and the new guy, Matthias. With them were the women followers, Mary His mother, and His brothers. Of the crowds that had acclaimed Jesus' name, there were maybe 120 male believers left, plus women and children. They had spent the last few days in serious and constant prayer, first selecting the new apostle, then attempting to discern the will of God.

Meanwhile, outside the window, Jerusalem was once again teeming with pilgrims who had come for the festival Shavu'ot, which recalls God's giving of the Torah -- the instructions for living righteously. All of a sudden, the Apostles were given a gift for foreign language by the Holy Spirit, as well as an uncharacteristic desire to talk to the crowds. Leaning or stepping out of the room, they spoke to the people in the crowds in their own languages. Then Peter told the crowds the whole story of Jesus the rabbi who had fulfilled all the instructions of God completely, and whom God made both Lord and Messiah. That day, the number of believers swelled from 120 to over 3000, and they began to live in the beloved community that characterized the church. (Check out Acts 2, if you want to read more.)

That day is called Pentecost, and on that day the Holy Spirit gifted and empowered the apostles, others heard and experienced the gospel, and they began to live in a new way. That's church, you know -- the gospel lived out among a community of believers, who have been gifted and empowered by the Holy Spirit.

Pentecost is on my mind because last weekend the Holy Spirit got an early start:
  • Last Saturday, our friend John Rodgers officially began to live a new way. John has been gifted by the Holy Spirit with a desire to talk to the crowds in their own languages -- what we now call "sharing the good news" or "evangelism". On Saturday, you, the Silicon Valley Gay Men's Chorus, our Conference Minister Mary Susan Gast, and other local pastors laid hands on John and asked God's blessing upon him. We celebrated with amazing music (thank you Cheryl, Susan, and the Music Ministry!), inspired preaching, and great food -- just like the first church did. It's a shame if you missed it, because it was a once in a lifetime experience for both John and the rest of us.
  • Then on Sunday, our "confirmation class", known as "[insert identity here]" led worship. From hosting to praying to preaching to playing, from planning to agape meals to cleanup, it was their day, and Jesus was in the house! With an uncharacteristic desire to talk to the crowds, the youth of [iih] led us right into the presence of the Holy Spirit. God is at work in our kids.
So I've been thinking about Pentecost, remembering the birth of the church all those years ago. But I'll tell you: if you were here this past weekend, you know that right here at Campbell, the church is getting born all over again.

Pastor Elane

No comments: